Bill and Macy Bloom almost decided against attending the Montrose Christmas Parade, but there they were, huddled under blankets Saturday on the edge of Honolulu Avenue.
“We just haven’t gotten into the spirit this year with all that’s happened, so we thought if anything’s going to get us there, this would be it,” Macy Bloom said.
As the nation comes to terms with a deepening recession, mounting job losses and bleak forecasts, scores of onlookers who crowded either side of Honolulu Avenue for the 32nd annual parade said holiday cheer was harder to come by this year.
“There’s definitely going to be less presents under the tree this year, and no gifts to extended family,” Anthony Sinanian said. “My kids probably won’t like it, actually I know they won’t, but at least we still have the parade.”
People like Sinanian and the Blooms made the traditions of Christmas all the more relevant this year, organizers said.
People started staking claims on street-side real estate as early as 8 a.m. Saturday. By 4 p.m., hundreds of empty lawns chairs and blankets had been set up along the parade’s main stretch.
Despite the doom and gloom of the day, the parade gave residents “something in common to celebrate,” Mayor John Drayman said. “These kinds of traditions re-instill a sense of community. That’s what this is all about.”
As in years past, the parade featured marching bands, dignitaries in classic cars, carolers, sirens, dance troupes, celebrities, beauty queens, sports teams, veterans, scout contingents, the Santa Claus flyover and even Barney, the purple dinosaur.
In all, 150 entrants marched down the parade route, waving hands or playing music to a crowd that organizers estimated at between 12,000 and 15,000 people.
The turnout was a testament to the value the Glendale area has placed on the “small town” parade over the years, said David Small, who helped organize the event through the Montrose Christmas Parade Assn.
“People want the fun, hometown, community parade,” he said. “That’s what we’ve worked so hard to do over the years.”
Not even a down economy could keep sponsors away, with more than 95% returning this year to contribute, even if some donations had to be a little less, Small said.
“They still had the same attitude,” he said.
Some in the crowd said the sense of community would probably end up being the silver lining of a less-than-cheerful holiday season with tightening budgets and worries about making ends meet.
“I will say that this is the first year in a long, long time that I haven’t been so crazy about what I’m going to buy for who and when I need to send it,” Shannon Lee said as Mrs. Claus drove by in a convertible. “It puts things in perspective.”